Castile and León (Castilla y León) is an autonomous community, Spain, referred to as a “historical and cultural community” in its Statute of Autonomy.
It was established as a pre-autonomy in 1978 and acquired its status as an autonomous community in 1983.
Its territory is located in the northern part of the plateau of the Iberian Peninsula and corresponds mainly to the Spanish part of the Duero hydrographic basin. Castile and León is a landlocked region, bordered by Portugal as well as by the Spanish autonomous communities of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha, the Community of Madrid and Extremadura.
It is made up of nine provinces: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora. The capital city is Valladolid.
It is the largest autonomous community in Spain in terms of area, covering 94,222 km2.
The heritage of Castile and León includes: 9 World Heritage Sites, almost 1,800 classified assets of cultural interest, 112 historical sites, 400 museums, more than 500 castles, of which 16 are considered to be of high historical value, 12 cathedrals, 1 co-cathedral, and the largest concentration of Romanesque art in the world.
Castilla y León constitutes, together with the Italian region of Lombardy, the region in the world with the most distinguished properties with the maximum figure of protection granted by UNESCO, with a total of 11 properties.
The region is a popular part of the Camino de Santiago and Camino del Cid touristic cultural routes.
Tourism and main attractions
Castilian-Leonese architecture is of great historical importance. Its artistic-architectural heritage leads it to have some world-class ensembles. It stands out in both civil and religious architecture. Within this, numerous cathedrals, monasteries, and churches, of which one of the largest churches of Romanesque style churches in the world stands out, especially in the province of Palencia. The Basilica of San Vicente de Ávila also stands out as an example of Romanesque.
Within military architecture, fortresses such as the one in Segovia stand out. But, without a doubt, the most representative are the castles, whose number is immense in Castilla y León. Land of castles, many stand out for their importance, such as: Ponferrada Castle, Peñafiel Castle, Frías, Fuensaldaña, Simancas, Coca, Ampudia, Enrique II of Trastámara, Cuellar, Los Comuneros and Benavente, among many others.
In addition, Castilla y León has three cities considered World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. They are Avila, Salamanca and Segovia.
The Plaza Mayor of the Charra capital is considered the best representation of the Churrigueresque style.
There is also an important heritage of the Mozarabic style. Examples of these are the numerous Mozarabic churches from the time of the Christian repopulation on both banks of the Duero, such as the monastery of San Miguel de Escalada or the hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga. Another example is the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara de Tordesillas.
Within Renaissance architecture, the Palacio de Santa Cruz stands out, the current seat of the rectorate of the University of Valladolid. From the same period, palaces of the Castilian nobility stand out throughout the community.
In Valladolid we can find the palace of Fabio Nelli, today a museum; the Pimentel Palace, the current Valladolid Provincial Council and the place where King Philip II was born, or the Vivero Palace, which served as the headquarters of the former Chancery of Valladolid as well as the place where the Catholic Monarchs signed their marriage agreement.
On the other hand, the Casa de las Conchas in Salamanca introduces Renaissance, Gothic and Plateresque elements. Also notable in this city is the Palacio de Monterrey, Plateresque in style and owned by the House of Alba. Salamanca concentrates several important works of this style, such as the convent of San Esteban.
In Burgos, the Casa del Cordón stands out, and within Elizabethan art, the Cartuja de Miraflores, the greatest exponent of this style. Also of relevance is the Cistercian monastery of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, important for its architecture, history and the musical Codex of Las Huelgas.
The Herrerian style is also present in the region. The most representative work of this style within the region is the Ducal Palace of Lerma.
Places to visit (by province in alphabetical order)
Arévalo – a site of cultural interest
Ávila – the capital of the province
Bonilla de la Sierra and its Collegiate Church
Mombeltrán Castle was erected by Beltrán de la Cueva, first Duke of Albuquerque
Aranda de Duero and its wineries
Burgos – the capital of the province
Caleruega – the birthplace of Saint Dominic
Covarrubias – a National Historic-Artistic Site
Frías – the smallest city in Spain
Miranda de Ebro and its attractions
Peñaranda de Duero – a Historical Complex
Poza de la Sal – a Historic-Artistic Site
Santa María de la Vid – the first Premonstratensian monastery in Spain
Santo Domingo de Silos and its monastery
Astorga – the European birthplace of chocolate
Carucedo lake stands out due to the Roman excavations of Las Médulas
Castrillo de los Polvazares – a Historic-Artistic Complex
Congosto and its Bárcena reservoir
Cornatel castle was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1949
León – the capital of the province
Molinaseca – a Historic-Artistic Site
Monastery of Saint Mary of Carracedo – a National Historical-Artistic monument
Monastery of San Pedro de Montes was founded around the year 635
Peñalba de Santiago and its rural architecture
Ponferrada and its Templar castle
Roman bridge known as Passo Honroso
Villafranca del Bierzo – a Historic-Artistic Site
Virgen de la Peña Sanctuary dates back to the 13th century
Aguilar de Campoo – a Historic-Artistic Site
Church of San Juan Bautista – the most original church of all the Visigothic art in Spain
Frómista and its locks on the Canal of Castile
Monastery of Santa María la Real – an old abbey of the Premonstratensian order
Palencia – the capital of the province
Picos de Europa – the second most visited national park in Spain
Béjar – a historical-artistic complex
Candelario and its architecture
Ciudad Rodrigo – a Historic-Artistic Site
Duques de Alba castle dates back to the 12th century
La Alberca was the first Spanish town to be declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1940
Ledesma – a historical-artistic complex
Miranda del Castañar – a historical-artistic complex
Salamanca – the capital of the province
Salamanca car museum and its collection
Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia – the highest Marian sanctuary in the world
Coca – the birthplace of Roman Emperor Theodosius I
Coca castle – one of the best examples of Spanish Mudejar brickwork
Linares reservoir – a part of the Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park
Maderuelo – a historical complex
Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso
Segovia – the capital of the province
Sepúlveda – a historical-artistic complex
El Burgo de Osma – a Historic-Artistic Site
La Cuerda del Pozo reservoir and its tourist activities
Monteagudo de las Vicarías and its castle
Soria – the capital of the province
Santa María la Real de Huerta – a Cistercian monastery
Castle of La Mota belongs to the School of Valladolid
Medina del Campo – the capital of the Rueda Denomination of Origin
Tordesillas and its attractions
Valladolid – the capital of Castile and León
Benavente and the Church of Santa María del Azogue
Monastery of Santa María de Moreruela – a Cistercian monastery
Puebla de Sanabria – a historical complex
Sanabria lake – the largest glacial lake in Spain and the Iberian Peninsula
Zamora – the capital of the province
Transport and how to get to?
Castile and León has four airports open to civil use: Valladolid Airport, in the municipality of Villanubla, 10 km from Valladolid, which registers the highest volume of air traffic in the Community and is of mixed civil and military use; León Airport, in the town of La Virgen del Camino, 10 km from León, also for mixed civil-military use; Salamanca Airport, 17 km east of the capital, previously exclusively for charter flights and now with regular flights, and Burgos Airport, in the Villafría neighbourhood, the most recently opened (2008).
Castile and León has an extensive rail network, including the principal lines from Madrid to Cantabria and Galicia. The line from Paris to Lisbon crosses the region, reaching the Portuguese frontier at Fuentes de Oñoro in Salamanca. Astorga, Burgos, León, Miranda de Ebro, Palencia, Ponferrada, Medina del Campo and Valladolid are all important railway junctions.
Distance by car from the capital of Valladolid to other capital cities of Spain
From Madrid 2 hr 20 min (193 km) via AP-6 and N-601
From Santiago de Compostela 4 hr 17 min (447 km) via A-52
From Oviedo 3 hr 3 min (258 km) via AP-66 and N-601
From Santander 2 hr 44 min (254 km) via A-67
From Vitoria-Gasteiz 2 hr 39 min (243 km) via AP-1 and A-62
From Pamplona 3 hr 31 min (339 km) via A-62
From Zaragoza 4 hr 17 min (427 km) via AP-68
From Barcelona 7 hr 10 min (729 km) via AP-2 and AP-68
From Toledo 2 hr 51 min (257 km) via AP-6 and N-601
From Valencia 5 hr 34 min (547 km) via A-3
From Mérida 3 hr 48 min (396 km) via A-66 and A-62
From Murcia 5 hr 39 min (593 km) via AP-36
From Seville 5 hr 32 min (587 km) via A-66
From Logroño 2 hr 47 min (256 km) via A-62
The Gastronomy of Castilla y León is widely known for the quality of its wines and meats. Some of its quality brands are known worldwide: its wines, with 9 denominations, among which D.O. Ribera del Duero, D.O. Bierzo, D.O. Bull or D.O. Wheel. Sausages and cured or fresh meats, with 16 Protected Geographical Indications and quality marks, among which are Guijuelo Ham, Castile and León Suckling Pig, Segovia Suckling Pig, León Cecina or Cantimpalos Chorizo.
Some of its typical dishes are: roast suckling lamb, roast suckling pig, garlic soup, hornazo, botillo, Saldaña beans, beans from El Barco de Ávila, beans from La Granja , the hen in pepitoria, or the varieties of blood sausage such as the blood sausage from Burgos, the blood sausage from León or the blood sausage from Aranda.
The province of Soria is a notable producer of black truffles, although it still doesn’t have a protected designation of origin or geographical indication for the Soria black truffle. Soria was pointed out by UNESCO as a good example by include the Mediterranean diet in its Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Various sweets and pastry desserts are also typical, such as the Yemas de Santa Teresa. Depending on the religious calendar (Holy Week, All Saints’ Day), there are some or other traditional sweets.
They are traditional style dishes. In many restaurants the wood oven is still used. This has favored an incipient gastronomic tourism in the community.
The traditional Castilian chocolate with churros is also still practiced for breakfast, mainly on Sundays.
Castile and León is the European region with the largest number of recognized quality marks with 7 protected quality marks, the Bierzo region: D.O. Apple Reineta del Bierzo, M.G. Pera Bierzo Conference, M.G. Castaña del Bierzo, I.G.P. Roasted pepper from Bierzo, I.G.P. Botillo del Bierzo, Wine D.O. Bierzo and M.G. Bierzo cherry.
Area: 94 226 km²
Coordinates: 41°23′00″N 4°27′00″W
Population: 2 394 918
Time: Central European UTC +1